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Talk tackles historic conflict

Bill Cook, professor of English, discussed the diminishing amount of Palestinian land in Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in the Campus Center Ballroom A. Cook encouraged his audience of faculty and staff not to simply take his word about Palestine, but to research the truths about its people and their rich history for themselves. / photo by Scott Mirimanian

Branden del Rio
Editor in Chief

Bill Cook, professor of English, and Moroccan Fulbright scholar Sawsan Hussein teamed up to explain the current and historical aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by describing it from political and humanistic angles.

The lecture “Why is Palestine a Problem: Ignorance and Indifference in Post 9/11 America” was the third in the One Book, One University series.

“People have a right to a country,” Cook said. “They can live in the U.S. and call themselves Palestinians but they do not have a country. This is a problem.”

An audience of more than 30 students and faculty listened to Cook explain the political aspect of the problems the Palestinian people face.

He informed the audience of the history of the conflict and used several maps to illustrate how much land has become Israeli land.

On Sept. 23 the Palestinian Liberation Organization applied to the U.N. for official statehood.

Cook said that this was not the first time the group had applied for statehood; it had previously applied in 1989.

Cook pointed out that despite the fact that a majority of the U.N. approves of the Palestine becoming the 194th member state of the organization, the United States said that it would cease to support the U.N.

In contrast Hussein explained the human aspect of the conflict by citing two literary works.

Hussein used “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” a play composed of diary entries of an American who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian home, as her first example.

Hussein also used Cook’s fictitious morality tale, “The Chronicles of Nefaria.”

The book is about a fictitious comatose prime minister, General Demas, who draws strong parallels to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

In his coma Demas is fully aware of his surroundings and the affect he has had on the people who live in his state of Nefaria such as his good-natured nurse Humilia.

Mainstream media only talks about the numbers of people, but not the individuals themselves, Hussein said.

At the end of the lecture the floor was opened to questions from the audience.

“Isn’t it true that the more you tie a metaphor to a person, the less it becomes a metaphor?” asked David Werner, associate professor of English.

Cook said that he did not feel that was the case.

But he cautioned the audience not to take everything he said as fact.

As he advises his classes, he told the audience to do their own research and form their own opinions.

Branden del Rio can be reached at

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